Friday, November 6, 2009
Mary Jo's Named "One of the Seven Wonders"...
Thank-you to all that voted. Drum roll..... Mary Jo's Cloth Store won the Gaston Gazette contest for "The Seven Wonders of Gaston County"! Yippeee. We were named one of the "Seven Wonders". We couldn't be more proud and we thank all of our customers, near and far who took the time and voted online at The Gaston Gazette for Mary Jo's.
This is what the Gaston Gazette had to say about us.
"At 77 years of age, Margaret Colien Cloninger still goes to work six days a week, usually arriving and leaving sometime around dark. “I’m old, but I can outwork any young child,” said Cloninger, better known by the nickname her father gave her — Mary Jo.
She culled her work ethic working at her father’s grocery store in Dallas before she was tall enough to rest her chin on the counter. She shined shoes, took in rent payments on weekends and helped with recordkeeping. “I did it, and I was good,” she said. “My father taught me everything I know.” Except how to sew. That she learned on her own. Her mother wouldn’t let her use her sewing machine, so she’d sneak and use it while she was out. When Cloninger was in school (she had to drop out in the 11th grade to help her dad run the store), she taught her peers to sew because her home economics teacher didn’t know how.
Her ingrained business acumen and love of all things fabric led her to open a store behind her father’s barbershop back in 1951, on her 19th birthday. Today, Mary Jo’s Cloth Store is one of the largest independent fabric stores in the nation, drawing crafters, designers, quilters and stitchers from all over the world to the 32,000 square foot retail center in Gastonia.
It’s been featured in Southern Living Magazine and The New York Times. It’s also been voted by readers as one of the Gazette’s Seven Wonders of Gaston County. “I love what I do, and I don’t do it for money,” said Mary Jo. “This is my gift, this is my joy, and I know who I serve, so it just works.” She’s been tested along the way. As business progressed, she relocated her store within Dallas. It burned on Dec. 18, 1981, and forced her to relocate to Windsor Center in Dallas, where it stayed until moving to become the centerpiece of the Gaston Mall in 1986.
Her business philosophy is simple – treat others like you want to be treated and be fair. The 68 employees who work at the store are like family, she said. “It’s not me,” she said of her store’s success. “It’s all of us.” "
How the Seven Wonders were chosen. The first ever (to our knowledge) definitive list of the Seven Wonders of Gaston County was chosen from an online vote of Gaston Gazette. com readers. Readers nominated Gaston County landmarks, events and people by e-mailing the Gazette or posting the nominations online before the top 20 finalists were selected.
Remember to check out the Sale Page. TIP: Click through all of the pages as the stock changes sometimes on a daily basis.